Vegan Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup (비건 떡만두국)
Happy New Year, Dear Friends! 🥳🤍
On the first of January and Korean new year, Seollal(설날; The first of January in lunar calendar), there is a special food that Every Korean eat for Breakfast. Guess what? It is ‘Rice Cake Soup(Tteok-guk; 떡국)’.
So today I am going to introduce you to the Korean tradition of eating rice cake soup in the new year and how to cook the delicious ‘Vegan Rice Cake Dumpling Soup (비건 떡만두국)’.
Rice Cake Soup(Tteok-guk; 떡국)
Rice cake soup is new year food that Korean people eat on the first of January. Eating rice cake soup for celebrating the new year is an old tradition in Korea. Korean people say “I had a bowl of tteok-guk” meaning “I have grown one year older”.
Why Korean eat the soup for new year?
I was wondering why we have this tradition. After a while of research, I got these answers.
1. The ancient practice of worshiping the sun: The white colour of the rice cake symbolizes the bright first day of a year, while the round form of the rice cake represents the orb of the sun.
2. Wish for longevity: The long, white and soft rice cake(garaetteok; 가래떡) we use for rice cake soup is a symbol of longevity.
3. Hoping for Great Fortune: When the long and white rice cake (garaetteok) is sliced, the round profile of the sliced rice cakes symbolizes a round coin. As eating the coin shape rice cake we wish for the family’s wealth and good fortune.
A variety of Rice Cake Soup
The ingredients and recipes for rice cake soup vary from region and family. And many people add dumplings to their rice cake soup. We call the rice cake soup with dumplings as ‘Tteok mandu guk’. Mandu(만두) means Dumpling in Korean. I have added a few vegan dumplings which my mum made :-). If you want learn about the vegan dumpling recipe check out my vegan dumpling recipe! 🥟. But this time if you don’t have any vegan dumplings you can simply skip them. I promise you it will be still so delicious as the rice cake soup itself.
Traditionally beef is used for broth. But I am using vegetables instead, for making broth. And more importantly, when we cook the rice cake soup, we also prepare a few garnishes separately. These garnishes add beautiful colour and variety of flavour to the rice cake soup. The garnish is usually roasted seasoned seaweed, fried eggs, sliced leek e.t.c. But instead of the egg, I have fried thinly sliced firm tofu and it went perfectly well with the soup.
Okay! shall we start? 🧑🏽🍳💛
- Rinse and roughly chop the ingredients for broths and place them into a pot.
- Pour water in the pot and bring to a boil.
- Once it starts boiling remove the dried seaweed and reduce the heat to low and boil for about 10 minutes more.
- If bubbles form, remove them with a spoon.
- Meanwhile, squeeze the tofu carefully so as not to crush but remove the water. Then slice the tofu into 1cm thick slices.
- Bring an oiled pan, fry the tofu and season with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Carefully flip the tofu slice to fry each side evenly. Once it is done, set aside.
- When the vegetable broth is ready, remove the vegetables from the broth. Thinly slice the shiitake mushrooms among the vegetables and set them aside. We are using them for garnish.
- Add rice cakes into the boiling vegetable broth and 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp yondu (Optional) and ¼ tsp salt and a bit of black pepper (Don’t make the soup too salty since we are going to add a bit salty garnish later.)
- Add vegan dumplings at last and then boil for up to 5 minutes.
- Now the soup is ready. Place them into your favourite bowl. Add the garnishes you prepared earlier such as the fried tofu, sliced mushroom, roasted seasoned laver and sliced leek.
- Enjoy the delicious vegan rice cake dumpling soup :) and Happy New Year! (새해 복 많이 받으세요!) ✨